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If you’re looking for a fitness center with top-of-the-line equipment, classes, and training pros, your best option may be a retirement community. North American senior communities are in the middle of a fitness center renaissance, with Baby boomers driving demand for comprehensive wellness programs, coaching, and high-end equipment for cardio, strength, and balance. More than 80% of 700 communities surveyed in the US and Canada say they’re planning fitness center expansions and upgrades soon, and these aren’t just cosmetic changes – their plans come with a median price tag of $2 million. Other communities already have extensive fitness offerings in place.

Here’s what you can expect to find at some of today’s supercharged senior fitness centers.

Personalized digital fitness tracking tools

Senior communities are investing in fitness equipment with built-in workout and preference tracking for each user, such as resistance presets. That makes it easier to maintain your progress from one workout session to the next, without having to track workouts in your head or on paper. Some communities have fitness staff on site to show residents how to set up their digital workout records and use the equipment.

On-site personal training

Personal trainers can help older adults stay active even if they have knee and hip pain or balance problems. At upscale communities like Florida’s Palace at Coral Gables, residents can get personal trainer services on site free of charge. That’s a huge perk – the average cost for personal training is $50 per hour, according to WebMD.

Equipment chosen for balance and joint support

According to Athletic Business, retirement communities are choosing fitness machines based features that benefit all exercisers but are especially helpful for older adults. Equipment that uses air-pressure resistance rather than gravity and stacked weights, for example, allows for finer control over increases in workout difficulty while protecting users’ joints from jolting movements. Machines that make allowances for balance difficulties and limited mobility are also in demand.

A broad array of fitness options

Amenities like indoor and outdoor pools and up-to-date gym equipment are increasingly standard offerings these days, but some communities go above and beyond to put the activity in “active retirement.” For example, Brighton Gardens of Dunwoody in Atlanta offers multiple low-impact, social fitness options each day, including morning and mid-day walking groups, Wii bowling, balloon volleyball, and other fitness classes. At Sun City Texas near Austin, community residents can choose among three golf courses, several pools, two fitness centers, and multiple tennis and pickle ball courts. There’s a softball field on the campus, and clubs for hiking, cycling, and dancing.

What to look for in a senior community fitness center

When you’re looking for a retirement community, here are some questions about the community’s wellness program:

  • Are there fitness center attendants or personal trainers on site?
  • If so, what’s their fitness and first aid training like?
  • Can they show you how to use the equipment?
  • Is digital tracking available for your workouts?
  • How old are the machines, and what features do they offer?
  • What are the pool hours, and is there a lifeguard on duty?
  • Are there league sports or daily classes?
  • If so, are there extra fees for participation?
  • Can you visit the facilities and talk with the staff?

Take the time to shop around and look for a community that can help you keep moving. With so many communities making fitness upgrades, you have more choices than ever.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.

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